The future of IED
The fifty-year history of IED provides a series of very precise lessons on the theoretical aspects of the project and on the precise moments when knowledge is transformed into "knowledge and know-how", where by "knowledge" we generally understand the ability to answer questions; and whereas "know-how" means the ability to orient, organize and choose the best of the many possible projective responses. On the basis of this very solid foundation, it is possible to examine some topics which, as is logical, always remain tucked inside an institution; and also other issues that have to do with strategic decisions, in order to achieve an authentic qualitative differentiation of IED as regard to its competitors.
A first question has to do with the alteration of the territorial and social spaces posed by globalization and the international development strategy itself. This issue is especially complex in the case of Italy, given that "foreign students come, but do not stay", and this is problematic when the IED itself goes to other countries as a "foreigner who stays". It is true that we go to “do business", but with what cultural attitude? To affirm our identity and the Italian cultural values that the IED considers are also useful for those countries? Perhaps, through its own method of operating, to acquire a new "mestizo" identity that allows you to dialogue with the new context in which it is inserted? In the light of the facts, this last hypothesis seems the most credible. In any case, it is an issue that has never been addressed, at least officially, and which requires a very clear response, since it implies operational decisions and very specific and communicable means that on the other hand constitute the preference for values that mark our difference.
For example, the Brazilian IED offers a very interesting case history, since, after several years of great effort, it today tries to unite the best of a tradition and a sophisticated culture, such as Italian Design, with vitality and originality intrinsic to the Brazilian culture. We are, in short, talking about globalization, the new colonialisms in charge of hipertechnology and the need for everyone to assume their own responsibilities in the global world and to design and project their own society and their own form of democracy.
In this sense, a mestizo identity seems to be the most coherent one for an international and intercultural institution that must be very clear about its own limits and those of the different identities at stake, in order to conceive an equally clear strategy and to define a feasible, never indiscriminate project, within the framework of the given conditions. Especially if one thinks that in terms of education the IED has a proven history, which we could qualify as satisfactory, even above the expectations of the students; expectations that can be understood in two senses: a recreational one, while they learn and have fun, and another, consisting in the awareness that the IED provides them with instruments to furnish their world.
A new IED culture is possible, provided that it is characterized by the clear theoretical and programmatic presence of a new paradigm (miscegenation, a product of its own development) and by its interaction with the international IED Alumni network, which will allow for more profit to be made of the heritage of accumulated or present knowledge (we are speaking of thousands of teachers and former students) regarding cultural projects of great transcendence.
Another aspect that has to define this new IED culture is the evolution from the existing didactic structure towards a more intense relationship with the external world. Currently, in the didactic dimension there is only a small experimental component; this is accompanied by a functional-economic relationship with companies, although this occupies a secondary position. Greater integration with the business world and a greater concern for experimentation are destined to become the future foundations of IED development, which is why we are thinking of an institution where different schools have the opportunity to maintain a close relationship; where laboratories are not separate islands, but are integrated and are the true core of the institution; where the different ways of doing and creating are as inter-relational as possible. Our model should resemble a workshop, a Renaissance bottega.
Today we also find e-learning indispensable, understood as a changing forum of users and as a factor of integration and enhancement of our schools, always bearing in mind the distinction between a codified knowledge, transmissible through technological instruments, and a tacit knowledge, transmissible only through the figure of the teacher in person.
In a very short period of time, technologies and finances have ended up changing the reference horizon of a reality that today certainly proves difficult to interpret; both truths have also altered the role and importance of many disciplines, such as Biology or, without going any further, Design. The latter had already considered leaving the limited scope of manufacturing production, but its real emancipation has only really taken place in recent years. Without a doubt, Design is a reflection and consequence of a democratic culture that pays great attention to what comes from what has gone before it, but perhaps its true raison d'être lies in the extension of the project idea to many different areas that involve equally diverse knowledge. In this sense, a "political" reformulation of Design is necessary, a new utopia that will allow us to visualize the future and contemplate the use of a series of instruments whose existence, only fifty years ago, was unimaginable. The young people who study at the IED are the engine of this change and it is we who should show them the way. This new utopia, which presents a common horizon to all disciplines, is called «Environment». Design, with its method which is as rational as it is intuitive, with all the scope of its processes, which has extended its field of action beyond all limits, is established as the most suitable discipline to face and pursue that utopia.
In this sense, an inclusive approach of the old and new fields of Design would be useful to discern which training criteria should be adopted. In this perspective, the question of a school of sustainability (understood in all its nuances, not only in the environmental facet) could be a truly avant-garde initiative, if it is followed with rigor and not only defined as a marketing operation.
Taking into account that the IED "machine" already shows signs of functioning correctly, we could consider certain innovations, following priorities shared with the Board of Directors. For example, a first intervention could focus on the educational programs offered on each site, adapting the already existing ones to include new perspectives; a second, more radical idea, would be to review our theoretical foundations and strategies in terms of a possible future in the face of present reality. We believe that, always in collaboration with all the entities that make up the IED, outlining the master guidelines of what we want to be tomorrow is undoubtedly the essential contribution of the IED Scientific Committee today.